Monday, 27 June 2016

Priorities, and a few more assembled figures

I've been doing a bunch of tidying up recently, not that you could tell from the state of my painting desk. Various bits and pieces I'm just never going to use are making their way to ebay, a whole bunch of old White Dwarf magazines have made it to archive boxes, and a lot of rubbish has made it to a bin.

But while all this good productive stuff has been going on, I've fallen further and further behind on reading blogs I nominally follow. I've also suffered the advent of referal link spam clogging up my stats to the point of them being useless. This means that I'm going to start having quite a serious purge of the blogs I follow, cutting back on all but a few of my favourites that I have time to read. I'd rather spend time on hobbying, getting my life in order and writing blog articles!

Sorry, soon to be unfollowed blogs - I don't hate you, I'm just not finding the time for everything I'd like.

I've still managed to get a few bits and bobs assembled and ready for undercoating. This one is a bit of a cheat, though! A good friend assembled him for me, so I just needed to sort the base. Well, would have if I hadn't been a klutz and managed to knock his axe off and had to reglue it - but I trust you all to pretend that didn't happen, right?

Meanwhile, we have the Merchant and the Scribe, who will probably be wizards in my pirate crew. Wait, I haven't told you about the pirate crew yet, have I? Well, on my project page, you will see a placeholder for "The Crew of the Lady of the Deep". I hope to add some more detail eventually! In short, a roving pirate crew for the forces of Order is the plan - a mix of human cut throats and aelf corsairs, with maybe a couple of other surprises here and there.

Next week, expect a battle report, as I plan to spend the weekend running around a campsite shooting Nerf guns at people - I won't get much hobby done because of that. Looking at what I've got on my table at the moment, my broad plan is to get my assembly down to one big project and one little project. As we get down to sensible assembly numbers again, I'll also pick up the paint brush again and start getting things finished as more things come in.

I have a few ideas about what to do next. I do want to blitz through various half completed jobs and various things from my 'triage' column (where I fiddle with stuff I commissioned the assembly). I'd also really like to hit the Fallen Angel project and get the Cypher formation done. There's also this year's Oldhammer Forum challenge I've got a figure for but not started! Getting a little progress on my Malifaux and Infinity figures is also a major goal.

You can see how it's easy for me to get carried away and start too many things at once. The key thing will be to pick one, work on it, and get it done, then start the next. Jumping between tons of different projects is what is resulting in very little getting finished!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Liyla and the Shadows of War - human impact and the purpose of wargames

Some time ago, I went to a book event in London where Paul Mason was interviewing Molly Crabapple about her book Drawing Blood. Paul was also promoting his book on Post-Capitalism. I found the experience a little surreal, as I usually attend Sci-fi and Fantasy book launches, and the audience was very much a mix of social activists and artists.

When talking to Paul after the event, I mentioned how at times Molly had mentioned "the artists here will know..." or "the activists here..." and that how my brain had got to thinking that as probably the sole wargamer in attendance, it was rather unlikely that there'd be a reference to "the wargamers in the room".

Paul said something that will stick with me for a long while.

"I haven't wanted to wargame since the last time I went to Gaza."

So, it turned out that Paul knows Richard Barbrook, who is a member of Class Wargames. (My wargaming readers might recognise one of their other players - the name Mark Copplestone jumped out at me!) They use wargaming as tool for teaching about their political beliefs and explore games to further their understanding of the world.

I was reminded of this more recently, when I spotted on twitter a bit of a kerfuffle about the computer game Liyla and the Shadows of War. In short, Apple originally refused to publish it as a game on the grounds that it was political, but did reverse this decision on appeal, and you can now download it here. (Android had no such problems and it's available on that platform here.)

While it's a computer game, there is very clearly a purpose and a message to it as well. It is very much from the perspective of civilians caught up in a modern war. If you stop to think about how easily your character dies if you make a mistake, it can make you stop and think about the reality of what being caught in a modern war as a civilian might be like.

I've also been reading Lost Battles by Philip Sabin recently. Professor Sabin was one of my lecturers when I was in university, and he explores using wargaming from an academic perspective to look at ancient battles where details are scarce or believed inaccurate to get a better understanding of what may have actually happened.

So, I can see the 'value' of wargaming, outside of the fun it can be, in the learning it can bring, either in terms of understanding ancient history, or in helping understand or communicate modern political issues.

And yet.

"I haven't wanted to wargame since the last time I went to Gaza."

I don't play historical or modern games - I'm entirely a sci-fi / fantasy gamer. The fantasy and science fiction games I play are for the tactical challenge or the artistic aspects (particularly world creation). Death and suffering are understandable high stakes or hold an emotional weight that underpin those aspects. But I am starting to consider - are we trivialising these things?

War is innately horrible, and in our games which we play to amuse ourselves, we downplay that, because we are not monsters. We don't dwell on the loss, the gut-wrench of the death of a loved one. Even the 'dark' games are sanitised from the real experience of war, because a real war is not fun.

I don't have an answer to this. It's something I'm still thinking about.

I didn't ask Paul what he saw the last time he went to Gaza. I didn't want to know the answer.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Battle Report: Malifaux, 50SS, Collodi vs Perdita

 During some holiday recently, I spotted a good friend who I've been meaning to play at Malifaux for forever was finally free for a game. He's playing Guild, I'm playing Neverborn, we use Gaining Grounds and we draw the Strategy for controlling table quarters. He confirms Perdita, I'm still using Collodi. With the four schemes above, I pick Hunting Party and Occupy Their Turf because Francisco Ortega looks like a beast and I don't fancy "A Quick Murder" because of that.

I start off with a bunch of push shenanigans because I had a hand of junk, and discarding for pushes seemed like an excellent idea.

The Brutal Effigy and Francisco potter up the board on his side - the models are painted really nicely!

My poor Changeling gets gunned down as I didn't quite understand how the height of cover works. Learning experience!

I push the Mysterious Emissary up and drop a double defensive on it so it can be a pain in the what's-name. My poor Teddy clearly needs some paint!

Teddy comes out to play. The Emissary soldiers on, healing damage through Hazardous Terrain, and getting stitched up by Collodi before finally going down after wasting a lot of the Guild's activations.

But is no match for the guns of the Guild.

Perdita, however, is caught out by quite how stabby Fast Marionettes are, and goes down while Francisco is Slow and I control his remaining activation. Shortly afterwards, Francisco goes down as well!

And yet, I lose badly! Why? Well, Hunting Party required Teddy and the Emissary to go hunt enemy Minions, but instead they got into a slug fest with Perdita and Francisco centre-field. They were able to plink off puppets, or let Granny Ortega do it off on the flank where I never took any photos! And I never made it anywhere near their deployment zone. I was always reacting to the scary Ortegas rather than having a plan to win the game.

So, a game that was great fun, and a massive reminder to me to play the mission if I want to win...

Monday, 6 June 2016

WarhammerFest: Cool stuff I saw, and summary

Well, WarhammerFest is pretty far in the past now. I should stop waffling on about it and finish up using the photos I took there.

This is a big Forge World display board - it's not necessarily "new" as such - sections of it are from the old attack on Calth board they did for the last event.

I love these civilian vehicle conversions. They're really characterful and the sort of thing I adore as I feel they add depth to the setting..

All in all, I really enjoyed WarhammerFest. It was an excellent use of a weekend, and I got to catch up with many awesome people I like and have time for. Staying on site was an excellent choice. I felt like I was less organised with what I wanted to do this year - I missed a couple of demonstration pods and similar I wanted to at least have a look at.

Glamour shot of shipping crates. I may be a little excited about GW's latest shipping container option, but need to assemble and paint some more stuff before I'm allowed to get them. :)

I mean, who doesn't love a good shipping container?

This was a board from the Warhammer World team, using some of their models and armies.

This excellent Coteaz is painted by James Karch.

So with that, I'll sign off on WarhammerFest until the next one.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

WarhammerFest: Licensing Seminar - Computer Game Demos!

The WarhammerFest Licensing Seminars didn't seem quite as busy as the Forge World ones, which I didn't quite get, as there's a lot of really awesome computer games due soon.

First up is Eternal Crusade, a massive online third person shooter. It's currently on Steam early access, and the idea is that they'll run campaigns with you fighting for your faction to gain territory.

Released between me seeing this seminar and actually writing it up, we have Total War: Warhammer. With it being so close to release, we got to see a lot more of it!

It's pretty much everything you'd expect from a Total War game. It's based in the Old World, with the different races each having their own objectives in the campaign.

You also get monsters, flyers and spell casting.

During the FAQ, it was mentioned that downloadable expansions are intended to eventually deliver all the Warhammer races from 8th edition.

As a fan of old stuff, this was the point I lost my mind a little bit...

They were mostly showing concept art, as I don't think they'd announced that the Drachenfels expansion was coming at this point.

They apparently spent the time to go through all the source material on Drachenfels, both from the novel and mentions elsewhere, like the WFRP supplement.

It's a running around and stabbing Skaven game, but the nod to the old lore is really nice.

Blah, blah, some new weapons, stuff that you'd be interested in if you'd played the game already and weren't just freaking out over the idea of the Drachenfels lore being used again.

Inquisitor: Martyr is an action RPG that is being worked on. Here's a baddie.

They're intending for it to be a massive open world style game.

There were a lot of pictures and not much description of the game, but they did mention that the example character running around was what a late game Inquisitor would look like, and you'd start off much smaller.

There was some cool stuff about being able to use plasma guns to shoot through weak cover and stuff like that though!

Here's a different Inquisitor game! Eisenhorn: Xenos is going to be a pretty close rendition of the book, so it will be pretty linear, but you'll have the option to vary from the book in small ways at times.

There was then a presentation of Dark Future: Blood Red States. They asked us very nicely not to take photos of the presentation, which mostly consisted of some renders of some of the cars at a very early stage. It's still pre-Alpha.

It looks like they're staying true to the background - Elvis as a Bounty Hunter, Nelson Mandela as the pope. It's quite an irreverent alternate history. Apparently James Swallow will be helping with the background writing.

You'll see all the traditional stuff - machine guns, mines, ramming. They're using the Unreal Engine. You don't drive the cars yourself, but you're an agency boss giving orders to your drivers. It'll be a real time game where you pause to give orders. It'll be out around the end of the year.